The 13th Warrior

Watch The 13th Warrior

"Prey for the living."
  • R
  • 1999
  • 1 hr 42 min
  • 6.6  (131,067)
  • 42

The 13th Warrior is a historical fiction action film directed by John McTiernan and released in 1999. It stars Antonio Banderas as Ahmad ibn Fadlan, a cultured Muslim emissary from Baghdad who finds himself joining a group of Norse warriors led by Buliwyf, played by Vladimir Kulich. The story is based on the novel Eaters of the Dead by Michael Crichton.

The film opens with Ibn Fadlan being sent away from Baghdad on a diplomatic mission to the Volga Bulgars. Along his journey northward, he encounters a band of Norse warriors who invite him to their camp. There he meets their leader Buliwyf and learns of their quest to confront an ancient evil that terrorizes a nearby Viking village. Out of duty and curiosity, Ibn Fadlan agrees to accompany them on their mission.

What follows is an epic adventure into the wilds of ancient Scandinavia. Ibn Fadlan struggles to overcome the vast cultural differences between him and his new comrades. The Norsemen initially mock Ibn Fadlan for his unfamiliar Arab ways, but they come to accept him when he proves himself in battle against a band of marauders.

Eventually the group arrives at the embattled Viking village, which is being terrorized by creatures known only as the Wendol. They are a tribe of neanderthal-like beasts who attack at night under the cover of mist. Buliwyf and the warriors help fortify the village, preparing it for the next Wendol assault. When the attack comes, they valiantly battle the inhuman creatures. Through courage and cunning, they finally defeat the Wendol tribe and lift the dark pall over the land.

Throughout this perilous adventure, Ibn Fadlan finds himself transformed from an outsider to a brother-in-arms to the Norse warriors. He maintains his Muslim faith, while also connecting with the Vikings' pagan culture and code of honor. Antonio Banderas was praised for his portrayal of Ibn Fadlan, compellingly showing his arc from uptight foreigner to hardened warrior. Vladimir Kulich also stands out as Buliwyf, the wise and mighty Viking chief. Despite their vastly different backgrounds, the two men form an unlikely bond of loyalty.

With its epic scope and thrilling action sequences, The 13th Warrior presents a unique historical fiction take on the Viking era. It lends an air of mystery and grandeur to the Vikings' world, with the Wendol seen as horrific legends sprung to life. The climactic battle against the Wendol is memorable for its tense cat-and-mouse exchanges and visceral, brutal combat. Director John McTiernan maintains a gritty, muscular feel throughout the film. The gorgeous Norwegian landscapes provide a stunning and atmospheric backdrop for the story.

While taking some artistic liberties with history, The 13th Warrior overall delivers an exhilarating cinematic experience. It combines fast-paced adventure with thought-provoking themes about cross-cultural connection. Antonio Banderas' performance grounds the fantastical story with emotional depth. The 13th Warrior stands out as a one-of-a-kind action epic.

The 13th Warrior is a 1999 adventure movie with a runtime of 1 hour and 42 minutes. It has received mostly poor reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 6.6 and a MetaScore of 42.

The 13th Warrior
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 42 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    6.6  (131,067)
  • Metascore